Tech Talk: Appy Christmas, readers!

The iTunes app store will be the destination of choice for many this Thursday.
The iTunes app store will be the destination of choice for many this Thursday.
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IF you’re expecting to find a phone or tablet in your stocking on Thursday, the first thing you’ll want to do is load it with apps. Apart from anything else, it will allow you to spend Christmas in the now-traditional fashion of burying your head in your screen while those around you attempt to engage you in conversation.

If you’re used to using such devices you’ll already have enough favourites to keep you busy until the turkey is served – but app stores are a constantly changing landscape, so here are a few that might have been added or changed since you last looked…

SOUNDHOUND: If you ever find yourself watching a TV documentary and wondering what tune they’re playing in the background, the latest version of this music discovery service is a revelation. Simply touch the icon and it starts listening to the ambient sound around you, filtering out chatter and other extraneous noise. If all goes well, it will not only identify the tune but also generate a list of links from which you can buy it or hear it in full, instantly and for free, on YouTube. Shazam, MusiXmatch and MusicID are popular alternatives.

• BBC iPLAYER: The new version is a real space-hog on phones with limited storage, but it is the best way of turning your device into a pocket TV. You can watch live or on-demand programmes and download them for when you’re offline.

• SPEED TEST: If you’re as big a geek as me, the first thing you’ll want to know about your new device is how fast it connects to the internet. Ookla’s Speed Test app measures its connectivity in a few seconds and compares your speed with neighbours using different internet companies.

• ES FILE EXPLORER: Apple devices don’t permit this sort of “under the bonnet” tinkering, but on an Android phone or tablet potentially the most useful app you can install is ES File Manager. This lets you browse, copy and delete not only the files on the device in question but all your others, too.

• GOOGLE PLAY NEWSSTAND: Google’s “build-your-own magazine”, formerly known as Currents, serves up content from the main publications as well as blogs and social posts. In common with other popular apps like Flipboard, Zite and News Republic, it’s a new, visually attractive way to digest the headlines.

• THE YORKSHIRE POST: I’m contractually obliged to remind you that we have our own news and football apps for phones and tablets – and the football ones are free!